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Thai Sticks

The first time I heard of Thai Sticks was in 1972 and it was only a rumor. I had caught wind of a story that a guy returning from Viet Nam had smuggled about 20 pounds in stereo speakers and that it was the most exotic weed in the world. I knew then that this would be my goal, but at the time I had no idea how it would unfold.

For the past two years I’d been smuggling loads of Mexican pot into California on sailboats and I had developed a reputation of being able to score tons the finest quality of Mexican weed available… from the Mexican states of Michoacan and Oaxaca.

For the past two years I’d been smuggling loads of Mexican pot into California on sailboats

About a year later the opportunity presented itself when a Thai exchange student friend of mine decided to return home and invited me to come over and visit him. We traveled Southeast Asia together with the idea of exploring the possibility of smuggling a load of Thai Sticks or Nepalese Hash. After weighing the pros and cons of both possibilities we settled on a smuggling venture from Thailand. It took a year and a half to organize and successfully complete our first trans-Pacific Thai Stick smuggling operation in early 1975. In late 1975 we decided to try it again and this time I had the opportunity to travel to Northeast Thailand and meet the growers and also to share my thoughts with the village elders and was able to instruct and council them on how to make our operation the finest in the world. Here’s what happened…  

Pattaya, Thailand. Photo I took from my adventures smuggling marijuana .

“…Thirty or forty thatched huts stood on stilts in a clearing which had been cut from the dense green jungle. Pat parked the car in front of the village’s longhouse, a sort of town meeting hall. The other huts were individual family dwellings. The village was very primitive and there was no electricity or running water. Pat and I climbed up a set of wooden stairs and entered the main building.

Pat introduced me to the village Chief. He was an old man and with his two sons, both in their late twenties, ran the marijuana growing operation. The Chief, his sons and a number of important village elders, already gathered in the longhouse, placed their palms together in a Thai gesture known as a ‘wai’ and bowed deeply, as a sign of great respect.

I gave a short speech which Pat translated into the northeast Thai dialect and again the village elders ‘waied’. I now suddenly understood why I was so highly respected. I was their ultimate benefactor, directly responsible for their livelihood.

“I’d like to see the fields,” I said to Pat.

Pat spoke with the Chief ’s sons.

“OK, we go with these two,” Pat continued, gesturing toward the two youths standing in front of the longhouse with M-16 automatic rifles carelessly slung over their shoulders.

The group including the Chief ’s two sons, the guards, Pat and I walked about a mile on a dirt path through the jungle. We came to a clearing where in front of us appeared to be a five-acre Christmas tree farm, only the Christmas trees were eight to ten foot tall marijuana plants at the height of maturation. The flower tops sparkling with potent resin glistened in the sunlight. I had never seen such a beautiful sight.

At the field’s far end were drying sheds where row upon row of freshly cut flower tops hung upside down to dry. I took out a pack of Zig-Zag wheat straw rolling papers from my pocket, plucked a top from the most beautiful plant I could find, and proceeded to roll a four-paper zeppelin-shaped joint. I lit it and inhaled deeply. It was the most potent weed I’d ever smoked. I passed the joint to Pat. The marijuana was so fresh, it wouldn’t stay lit and I had to re-light the joint after every hit. By the time we’d each had three tokes, both Pat and I were supremely stoned. I took a few photographs of the plants. The Chief’s sons proudly posed for pictures of themselves, with M-16’s slung over their shoulders and dwarfed by the towering plants with sparkling buds, heavy laden with pollen and resin, drooping over their heads.

We returned to the village where we were introduced to a typical Thai family. Pat and I climbed up the steps into the thatched hut. There was one main room, where the entire family ate and slept. Sitting upon bamboo mats were the grandmother, the mother and two young girls. In front of the women was a large thirty-three-gallon plastic bag, filled with freshly dried marijuana flower tops. The women and girls were meticulously manicuring each individual top with cuticle scissors then breaking off the flower tops from the main stem and fastening each one to a thin bamboo stick, and securing them with a fine piece of twine. The combination of sticky resin and twine held the tops securely to the stick. Each twenty sticks were then secured together in two rows of ten stacked one on top of the other then secured together with another piece of twine and held in a bundle.

In front of the women was a large thirty-three-gallon plastic bag, filled with freshly dried marijuana flower tops.

Each woman had a stack of bundles at her feet. I picked up a particularly nice looking bundle from Grandma’s pile and using one of the few Thai phrases I knew, I spoke directly to her, “Suay, mak, mak,” meaning very beautiful. The old woman put her palms together in a ‘wai’ and bowed. Her tan and wrinkled face broke into a wide toothless ear-to-ear grin.

I turned to Pat. “The quality must all look like this. Only the freshest, lime-green to gold color is what we want. All of the sticks should be fat like this, so the buds are not too compressed.” As an example I picked up a particularly gorgeous one, a half inch in diameter stick showing it to the group of women workers. I produced a small hand held gram scale from my briefcase and weighed the stick. It weighed 18 grams. Then I weighed a particularly fat bundle containing twenty sticks. It weighed 285 grams.

“Nobody in the United States has ever seen anything like this and it will blow their minds! This is exactly what we want and only this, Pat. Make it clear to the Chief, we will accept nothing less and please impress upon him, if they send anything other than this down to the ranch we will throw it away and not pay them for it. If they have any- thing of lesser quality, please ask them to sell it to someone else. We will not accept it. Period. I can’t stress the importance of this concept enough. If we accept anything less, then that’s what we will get. Not to be trite, but ‘water seeks its own level, the lowest level.’ If we set the bar as high as it will go, we can dominate the market and anyone else who brings it in will have lesser quality and won’t be able to compete.”

I continued: “You know, Pat, others are going to follow us and right now we are the only ones doing this kind of quantity and quality. It can’t last…”  

90° to Zamboanga, Section 4, Chapter 23, page 259

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